Anna Wyrzykowska is a partner at WKB Lawyers, Poland. Her practice is focused on real estate, M&A transactions, and corporate law. She is the head of the real estate practice and a co-head of the firm’s French desk. Anna is also a lecturer on corporate and real estate law at The Warsaw Bar Association and the author of numerous publications, including two commentaries on company law. She is a member of the International Relations committee at her firm, which sparked her interest in international associations for lawyers. Through involvement as a speaker, event organizer, and officer, she was elected the first Polish President of AIJA – the International Association of Young Lawyers.
What inspired you to work in the international association sector? Would you recommend this career to others? Why/ why not?
I really appreciate the fact that people from all over the world can share their experiences, good and bad, to try to improve their personal and professional situations through associations.
The legal industry can be quite limited and closed, with diversity, sustainability, and well-being not always taken into account. At the same time, it is the role of lawyers to protect the Rule of Law and Human Rights and secure that these rights are protected worldwide. In order to develop the legal profession and contribute to our joint future, the work of international associations is indispensable. Associations help to make a global push for changes, especially associations like AIJA, which actively focus on bringing in the younger generation.
How do you/ your association #EmbraceEquity? Does giving a voice and a space to diverse groups make for better results? What are the challenges you encounter? Did you solve them?
At AIJA, we appointed a Diversity Officer and we make sure that functions and speaker positions are assigned to a diverse group of people. In AIJA, 40% of members are women, so we do not see a gender diversity issue inside the association. However, we push for certain initiatives to teach members and their legal firms how to create a diverse and inclusive work environment. We understand diversity broadly – not just related to gender, but also to background, sexual orientation, and origin.
We also appointed a Sustainability Officer, a position which has grown to the AIJA Sustainability Board. It enables us to put focus on ESG and to ensure that we actively contribute to the future society of lawyers and non-lawyers (understanding our mission as lawyers). We are the first legal association to implement the sustainability grid, ensuring our events are as sustainable as possible and do not harm the environment.
How important are diversity, equity, and inclusion for the future success of associations? What initiatives, projects and ideas can you share that help other understand the real value of DEI?
By promoting diversity, parity, and sustainability, associations can teach societies and different professionals how to change and develop. In the legal industry, the majority of graduates from law schools are women, but in legal firms, equity partnership is still secured more for men. If we don’t implement formal measures for change, those women will leave the profession – creating a significant loss to the profession and to society.
During my presidency, I also commenced a global dialogue between the leaders of different legal associations such as ABA, IBA, IPBA, UIA, or Law Asia. I think there is a lot to do by all of us together when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion: After all, it will be lawyers who draft regulations on equity and inclusion and who put diversity law into practice – so we should start by reforming our profession!
I already mentioned the sustainability grid, and I think we should all try to make our events more sustainable. Of course, not all locations can be fully sustainable, and thus we should be careful not to exclude those which are still in the development process. However, if we demand more from local agencies, venues, and hotels, it’s the only way we can do this.